All in one DAC/Transport or seperates?

As the title says really.

For the money, or close to, would going for a separate network bridge and DAC setup be better than, for example, going for an NDX2. I mean would you get a better package putting your 5 grand into two boxes instead of one?

Well here’s a topic that could rattle in for the rest of time! There are so many permutations that it’s hard to generalise, and then there’s the choice with Naim streamers of an offboard DAC or offboard PSU, both of which have their followers.
For starters, instead of the £5k NDX2, you could look at a £2k ND5XS2 with plenty of cash left for a DAC from its SPDIF output. (Lots of non-Naim alternatives, too, of course.)
As for which option sounds best, sorry, I think you need to decide with your ears, not mine!

Yes so that’s what I’m saying in this case using the ND5XS2 as a network bridge.

The only way to find out is listen to both options I think and then go for the option that you think sounds better.

Once you split the functionality, one has to also consider the format of the data being received…

The no-brainer route would be stick to the tried-and-tested NDX2 route. Going for separates makes the choosing a lot more work :frowning:

I like store and renderer (player) combined, with no need to stream anything across a network, taking that out of the equation. Then the DAC is all important in terms of sound. But another factor is that some DACs are more immune to the effect of what feeds them than others - e.g when I had a Hugo, it was happy with an ND5XS as renderer, but with a MAC Mini running Audirvana through USB it absolutely needed an isolator (I used a Gustard U12), otherwise sound quality suffered. Dave, however is pretty immune.

Another aspect of the DAC could be whether it actually needs to have a preamp following. Opinions are split, but if you don’t have analogue sources and if it sounds right to you direct to power amp, then the saving on a preamp could open the door to a better DAC, and, after all, that is where the magic of reconstruction is done.

Going for a split approach does also give me the option of easing into the expense. So separate DAC to with existing NDX and then, as funds permit AND I convince myself that app control is the way forward (though, from my own experience it’s most certainly NOT - unstable/unreliable), then think about what to do for providing the feed.

Assuming that you are not interested in native DSD or MQA etc.?

So options in the up to 2K DAC price range?

Okay NAIM dac-v1 but also there’s the music fidelity m6s at c. the same price (and very well reviewed - though you can never take that as a definitive guide!). I think the naim dac has been out there a while though.

btw chord is out… can’t stand the styling.

You need to audition. Chord DACs sound better than any others I have heard and I prefer their styling as being small you don’t need them on display so no bright lights. So I’d go for M Scaler with Qutest within specified budget. Of course, I’d go Hugo TT2 rather than Qutest unless I needed the keep a pre-amp for another source.

However, if styling is your priority and you do not want to sacrifice sound quality too much then try a Linn DSM.

You really need to have a listen to the options and decide which your prefer. After all you’re going to listen to it, not me.

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Thanks for the suggestions… I was just trying to whittle the list down before going to the trying to listen stage :wink:

Time and actually listening have proven that it’s not about the hardware itself – it’s not about which chip, or whether the parts are in one box or two or three. It’s about how it sounds. There is no “right” answer to this; you’ll find separates that sound worse than the NDX2, and that sound better.

I have found that Naim do an excellent job at getting the sound right. They clearly put time and effort into getting a sound that to their standards is excellent. If you prefer a different approach to the sound – no argument from me. And in the States, right now, we do pay a premium for Naim vs. the exchange rate. But all-in-one vs. separates won’t get you where you want to be.

If you want to hear some excellent separates, listen to dCS. Not sure what you can get from them at the price of an NDX2. I’ve heard Vivaldi; it’s excellent. And a ton more money.

Strange. I mean the USD buys more GBP now than it did a year ago so I’d have thought prices would be better not worse.

The North American distributor, not unsurprisingly, does not adjust prices simply because the Pound weakens. I’d not expect that, although SOME relief would be welcomed by customers and dealers.

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Sticking with the NDX for now limits the DAC options and features that you can use straight away. Away from the Naim DAC you are likely to find USB and other connections from alternative manufacturers that you can’t yet evaluate?

Waiting patiently as well for the price of whisky to drop…

For a while I had a great streamer/DAC combo from Metrum Acoustics in the shape of the Ambre/Pavane.
The designer of those products is currently making a new integrated Roon Ready streamer/DAC under the name of Sonnet Digital Audio which, if and when it hits the market, will cost around 1K and probably equal if not better the quality of the 6K combo.
Leaving 3,500 free (after purchasing a Roon lifetime licence) for other upgrades or music purchases.

The Musical Fidelity M1 also received top marks by Stereophile but it sounded way broken when compared to the Chord QBD76. It was immediately sold when I got the Chord into the system.

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I prefer them separate. I have anti-delta-sigma flags in my DNA - every spring I need to go to a special NOS-retreat.